The insanity in recruiting is being fueled by the mass exodus known as the Great Resignation or Great Reshuffle or whatever its name is this week. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 4.3 million people voluntarily quit their jobs in December 2021, slightly below a record high in November 2021. The growing increase in departures has left a huge hole in the labor market. The number of current job openings (10.9 million) exceeds the number of new hires (6.3 million). A recent McKinsey study cited 44 percent of those who left the market said they have little to no interest in returning to traditional jobs in the next six months.
In the years before the pandemic, organizations seemed to have a disdain for employees who left. The “it’s just business” didn’t apply to employees who sought better opportunities and were blacklisted as a result. With such a shortage of talent, some firms are rethinking this and thought process and re-recruiting team members who have left.
The game for talent is completely different now. According to McKinsey, “To get in the game, companies must offer adequate compensation and benefits packages; that is the ante. But to win, they must recognize how the rules of the game have changed. While workers are demanding (and receiving) higher compensation, many of them also want more flexibility, community, and an inclusive culture (what we call relational factors) to accept a full-time job at a traditional employer.” There are workers who may not be currently looking to rejoin the labor market but might come back if they get the right offer.
Let’s explore why employees are leaving. Check out the chart below from the McKinsey research.
They have options
Unlike years past, employees now how multiple options to explore as the labor shortage and higher job openings create a candidate driven scenario. Employees no longer are bound by the stigma of “being a job hopper” in this kind of a market and are taking advantage of the offers out there including more benefits, better pay and more opportunities to learn new skills.
For recruiters, the game has changed as well. Candidates have access to more information about the labor market than before including their networks, the aggressive job campaigns most firms are embracing and of course, social-media sites. The number of openings limits the ability of recruiters to truly go on the hunt but candidates now are no longer limited to rely on the usual recruiting resources. They have seen friends and colleagues depart and survive, and they are confident that they can, too.
Your Culture Sucks
Employees look to managers for direction. If senior and middle management aren’t abiding by the core values you’ve promoted both in and out of the workplace, employees will follow suit. Even worse, they’ll begin to distrust leadership for exempting managers from the office rules. Authority will be discredited, and a clear divide will form between leadership and the staff.
I know personally the effects of working for such a toxic organization. Many employees recognize the toxicity can bleed over into their personal lives affecting their health and relationships. If the pandemic taught us one thing, it’s the importance of our time with those we love and our health. If your culture sucks and your leadership acts like a bunch of high schoolers in a click, then expect your attrition rate to continue to spike as more opportunities become available outside of your company.
They Feel Trapped
I found it interesting that number 2 & 3 on the chart related to employees feeling trapped. The shortage has forced many companies to expect higher productivity out of an already strained employee base. If you add to that the limited career development program focus of more organization and the lack of time employees would have to leverage them, it creates a feeling of desperation in employees. The McKinsey research shows that poor mental health (burnout and stress), family-care demands, and reflections on purpose because of the COVID-19 pandemic played big roles in why some workers left their companies without another job in hand.
Before you attempt to re-recruit those who left your firm (also known as boomerang employees), I’d strongly suggest you take a deep, radical look at your organization to ensure you’ve addressed some of the key reasons your employees are leaving. For instance, if you don’t fix the culture or get the bad leaders out, your attempts to re-recruit will just be a waste of time. Think of this as trying to court an ex, you have to show not through words but through measurable actions you’ve listened to their feedback and changed.
Now that you’ve made some commitments and progress to changing, let’s talk about why it’s a no-brainer to re-recruit.
You can’t put a price on a longtime employee’s knowledge of the inner workings of your company. Even if you attempt to attract and cannot match bringing a veteran employee back home. Hiring a former employee usually includes shorter onboarding periods and lower hiring costs, so your entire team can work more productively faster. Since they’ve already worked at your company, you also know how they fit with the culture.
They save you money.
Between the lower effort needed to recruit and train ex-employees and their shorter ramp-up time to full productivity, companies can cut costs by up to 50 percent per hire by employing a boomerang over a typical applicant. While this relates to the institutional knowledge mentioned above, it goes much deeper than that. The costs associated with the training and ramp up time are often untracked but are a definite hit to your soft expense line when recruiting someone outside of the organization.
Warning: DO NOT undercut an offer to a former employee! If you think you can still undercut the market with a cheap offer to a former employee, remember, they’ve worked elsewhere and will most likely have a better command of what market rate actually is. If you’re going to go cheap, don’t waste your time or better, the time of your former employee with a low-ball offer. Actually, to be blunt, don’t be stupid and do this!
They help retain your current employees.
Boomerang workers can improve department retention efforts by attesting to improvements made since they left and letting others who may be thinking about leaving know that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side (Glassdoor.com).
Think about it, if you have employees at risk of leaving, what better way to retain them than to have someone who left come back? Chances are, the boomerang employee can help your employees know for certain the grass is not greener on the other side, assuming you’ve fixed some of the issues causing the employee to leave.
You may have a huge pool unknown applicants but remember, they carry a ton of question marks! There’s a ton of value to be found in re-recruiting former employees. For better or worse, with an ex-employee, you know what you’re getting and it could possibly help you not only fill an open role but save an employee who’s contemplating leaving your organization.
and Sprint Recruiting
I joined the HR industry in 2004 after working as a sales leader in the Financial Services Industry for eight years. After spending his first couple of years in HR trying to fit in, I found my voice. Now I leverage all of the things I once hated about HR to become a consultant and invaluable partner to the businesses I support. I contribute to the HRGazzette and to DataDrivenInvestor on Medium. WARNING: my writing style is raw and in your face, not what you would expect from an HR executive.
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